FIRST MINISTER Fabian Picardo has told the BBC that Gibraltar would not thrive if the UK leaves the European Union (EU).
He has warned that any potential exit from the EU by the UK would undermine Gibraltar’s ability to stand up to Spain and to excel economically. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Picardo said the matter was an ‘existential matter’ for Gibraltar in economic terms.
“Of course Gibraltar would always be able to survive but I don’t think Gibraltar would be able to thrive economically should we be outside the EU as we are able to thrive today,” he said. “We can tell business from third countries to come to Gibraltar to access the EU and create jobs here, much as you might see is the case in the UK, where a Japanese car company might access the EU through a production facility that creates jobs in the EU.”
He mentioned the border dispute with Spain and the issue of people queuing for hours to get in and out of Gibraltar. “You saw that Prime Minister David Cameron was able to call up the president of the commission, Mr Barroso, at the time when we had issues with crossing our frontier into Spain,” said Picardo.
“The European Commission has acted to require Spain to change its attitude to the freedom of movement of European citizens coming to and from that border. Imagine if we were not members of the EU – we would then not be able to force Spain’s hand in any way.”
The first minister’s comments come as 7,000 Gibraltarians signed a petition urging the Queen to make an official visit to the Rock.